Chayei Sarah - Forever Connected
וַתָּ֣מָת שָׂרָ֗ה בְּקִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥וא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ:
"And Sarah died in Kiriath arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her." (Bereishis 23:2)
Sarah Imeinu passed away. The last act of kindness that Avraham performs for Sarah is procuring for her a burial plot. He approaches the Bnei Cheis and asks them to entreat Ephron to sell him the Cave of Machpelah.
וְיִתֶּן־לִ֗י אֶת־מְעָרַ֤ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בִּקְצֵ֣ה שָׂדֵ֑הוּ בְּכֶ֨סֶף מָלֵ֜א יִתְּנֶ֥נָּה לִּ֛י בְּתֽוֹכְכֶ֖ם לַֽאֲחֻזַּת־קָֽבֶר
"That he may give me the Machpelah (double) Cave, which belongs to him, which is at the end of his field; for a full price let him give it to me in your midst for burial property." (Bereishis 23:9)
Ultimately Avraham and Ephron come to an agreement to sell the land for four hundred shekel.
אֲדֹנִ֣י שְׁמָעֵ֔נִי אֶ֩רֶץ֩ אַרְבַּ֨ע מֵאֹ֧ת שֶֽׁקֶל־כֶּ֛סֶף בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵֽינְךָ֖ מַה־הִ֑וא וְאֶת־מֵֽתְךָ֖ קְבֹֽר: וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֘ אֶל־עֶפְרוֹן֒ וַיִּשְׁקֹ֤ל אַבְרָהָם֙ לְעֶפְרֹ֔ן אֶת־הַכֶּ֕סֶף אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר בְּאָזְנֵ֣י בְנֵי־חֵ֑ת אַרְבַּ֤ע מֵאוֹת֙ שֶׁ֣קֶל כֶּ֔סֶף עֹבֵ֖ר לַסֹּחֵֽר: וַיָּ֣קָם | שְׂדֵ֣ה עֶפְר֗וֹן אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּמַּכְפֵּלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י מַמְרֵ֑א הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְהַמְּעָרָ֣ה אֲשֶׁר־בּ֔וֹ וְכָל־הָעֵץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכָל־גְּבֻל֖וֹ סָבִֽיב:
"My lord, listen to me; a [piece of] land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is it between me and you? Bury your dead." And Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, accepted by the merchant. And so the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, facing Mamre, was established (as Abraham's possession). [This included] the field and the cave that was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within its entire border around. (Bereishis 23:15-17)
As we consider this parsha several questions jump out at us.
Avraham Avinu wants to bury Sarah in the cave known as Mearas Hamachpelah. The word Machpelah indicates a duality (it literally translates to a cave of doubles). Rashi explains that the cave was actually a cave within a cave. He likens it to a structure with an upper story over it. What is the significance of the double layered structure?
Rashi offers a second possibility as to why it is called Mearas Hamachpelah in that it is a place where couples are buried together. Though the question may seem insensitive, why is it important to be buried next to ones spouse? If our Avos did so surely it is something for us to emulate but we must ask why. Having already passed on, does it really make a difference that our body is next to the body of our spouse?
Sarah is buried in Kiryat Arba which the Torah tells us is Chevron. How did Kiryat Arba get its name? Rashi offers two explanations. The first explanation (based on Medrash Rabbah Bamidbar 13:23) is that Kiryat Arba is named for the four giants who were there. The second explanation (based on Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 20) is that it is named for the four couples that are buried there. The four couples are Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah.
Two questions. Firstly, our Sages (Medrash Rus 97b) identify Chevron (and specifically Mearas Hamachpelah) as the entrance to Gan Eden. Why would such an incredible place of kedusha be named after four Reshaim? Rashi does offer another explanation that Kiryat Arba was named after four tzaddikim but he only offers that as a second explanation?
Avraham is offered the field for free but insists on paying. Why? Furthermore, Rashi points out that Dovid HaMelech also insists on paying for Yerushalayim. The Zohar tells us that the Torah refers to it as the field of Ephron to connect it to Yerushalayim which is also called a field (Bereishis 24:63 and Pesachim 88a). Indeed, the Medrash (Pirkei D'Rabi Eliezer 36) ties Dovid's necessity in buying Har HaBayis from Aravna haYevusi, specifically by his own free will, to the agreement formed by Avraham in the purchase of MearasHamachpelah which stipulated, according to the Midrash, that the Har HaBayis only be acquired by the free will of the Jebusites. What is the connection between Chevron and Yerushalayim?
In the entirety of the story Ephron is spelled with a vav. At the point in which
the entire time until he sells the field and then he loses the Vav?
Our last question is not textual but legal. The Torah tells us that we ought to get married but neglects to tell us how we are meant to do so. Chazal learn out a gezeria shava of kicha kicha from the purchase of Sdei Ephron.
וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר אֶל־עֶפְר֜וֹן בְּאָזְנֵ֤י עַם־הָאָ֨רֶץ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אַ֛ךְ אִם־אַתָּ֥ה ל֖וּ שְׁמָעֵ֑נִי נָתַ֜תִּי כֶּ֤סֶף הַשָּׂדֶה֙ קַ֣ח מִמֶּ֔נִּי וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה אֶת־מֵתִ֖י שָֽׁמָּה
"And he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "But, if only you would listen to me. I am giving the money for the field; take [it] from me, and I will bury my dead there." (Bereishis 23:13)
כִּֽי־יִקַּ֥ח אִ֛ישׁ אִשָּׁ֖ה וּבְעָלָ֑הּ וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א תִמְצָא־חֵ֣ן בְּעֵינָ֗יו כִּי־מָ֤צָא בָהּ֙ עֶרְוַ֣ת דָּבָ֔ר וְכָ֨תַב לָ֜הּ סֵ֤פֶר כְּרִיתֻת֙ וְנָתַ֣ן בְּיָדָ֔הּ וְשִׁלְּחָ֖הּ מִבֵּיתֽוֹ:
"When a man takes a wife and is intimate with her, and it happens that she does not find favor in his eyes because he discovers in her an unseemly [moral] matter, and he writes for her a bill of divorce and places it into her hand, and sends her away from his house," (Devarim 24:1)
Since the Torah uses a language of קח (take) both by the purchase of Sdei Ephron and by marriage we can conclude that the instrumentation of acquisition is the same. Just as Avraham used money to acquire Mearas Hamachpelah so we use money when acquiring a wife. While it is true that the language in both cases is the same, it seems odd that the Torah would compare the purchase of a burial plot and marriage. Aside from the many comedians who compare marriage to death, there does not seem to be any connection between these two lifecycle events. This questions gains steam as we consider that the very next story in the Torah is the union of Yitzchak and Rivka. From the proximity of these two stories the Torah is further highlighting the connection between death and marriage. What is the inner message we are being taught here? The History And Significance of Mearas Hamachpelah
Mearas Hamachpelah is the first plot of land in Eretz Yisrael to become the legal possession of the Jewish people.
What is the significance of Mearas Hamachpelah?
Earlier we mentioned the Medrash that identified it as the entrance to Gan Eden. Let us now elaborate on the history and value of this incredible makom kadosh.
The Medrah (Rus Rabbah 97b) tells us that when Chava passed away, Adam went to bury her there and smelled the scents of Gan Eden. He wanted to dig even further but was commanded to stop by a heavenly voice. He stopped digging and he was also buried there. Who took care of his burial? The Medrash offers various opinions. Rabbi Kisma says that Sheit, the son of Adam, took care of his burial. Rabbi Rechumai, disagrees and says that Hashem Himself buried Adam. However, the burial place of Adam and Chava remained a secret until the time of Avraham Avinu. When Avraham entered the cave, he smelled the scents of Gan Eden, and heard the angels saying, “Adam HaRishon is buried there; Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov are destined to be in this place.” Avraham saw a lit candle and he exited the cave. From that moment on, he longed for that place.
How did Avraham Avinu find the cave? The Yalkut Reuveni (Parshas Vayera) tells us the complete story. "It is difficult both for the living and the dead to go to Gan Eden because they fear the damagers of Gehinnom who are situated in the north of the world. Therefore God made tunnels underground from Me’arat HaMachpela in Chevron that lead to outside this lowly world (Olam HaZeh), right next to Gan Eden, so that the righteous ones could have a straight path there, and they would not be harmed by the damagers. Adam and Chava, who knew this secret, tried to be buried there. From the day Adam and Chava were buried there, the entrance to the cave has been hidden from people, so that people would not know how great a place it is. When Avraham went with his son Yishmael to take 3 cows [to serve the 3 angels who were vising him], he secretly followed Refael (an angel). After he took 2 cows and he gave them to Yishmael to lead, Avraham wanted to take a 3rd cow. Refael appeared before him like an excellent cow... When Avraham came to take the cow (actually Refael), it slipped away from him until it came to the entrance of Me’arat HaMachpela. He opened the entrance to the cave - this too was God’s mission. When Avraham saw Adam and Chava buried there, and that the cave had the aroma of Gan Eden, immediately he knew the special quality of the place, and he desired to be buried there... the cave is like the courtyard of Gan Eden…"
The Medrash Rabbah (Noach 10) tells us that Mearas Hamachpelah is called a cave of doubles because whoever is buried there is guaranteed a double reward. (Additionally, it is because God doubled over (bent) the stature of Adam HaRishon, and buried him there.)
The great Kabbalist Rama Mipano (Yonas Ilem ch. 15) teaches that all of our teffilos go through
The Megaleh Amukos (Parshas Voeschanon) teaches that Moshe desired to enter Eretz Yisroel, because all of our teffilos first pass through Mearas Hamachpelah.
The heilige Radomsker in Tiferet Shlomo (Parshas Bamidbar), writes that aside from our teffilos, all of our Torah and Mitzvos pass through Mearas Hamachpelah as well.
While these sources certainly point to the value of Mearas Hamachpelah, some new questions arise as well. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Yaakov Avinu calls the Beis HaMikdash the gates of Heaven (Bereishis 28:17). Rashi (ibid) quotes Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer (ch. 35) which teaches that our teffilos ascend via the Beis HaMikdash. This is why we face Yerushalayim when we daven. Where exactly do our teffilos pass through before their ascension to the heavens? Chevron or Yerushalayim? Mearas Hamachpelah or the Beis HaMikdash? If our teffilos ascend via Mearas Hamachpelah, why do we not face Chevron?
Chevron - Pure Connection
Earlier in Parshas Lech Lecha we find that Avraham Avinu built three altars to God (Bereishis 12:7, 12:8, 13:18. ). Rashi explains that the first altar was built “upon hearing G‑d’s promise that he would have children, and that they would inherit the land of Israel." (Rashi, Bereishis 12:7)
The second altar was built in the vicinity of the town of Ai because “he saw in his prophecy that his progeny would stumble there through the sin of Achan. He therefore prayed for them there.” (Rashi, Bereishis 12:8) The third altar was erected when Avraham came to Chevron but neither the Torah nor Rashi provide an explanation as to why Avraham built this third mizbeach.
These three altars represent three dimensions of our relationship with Hashem. The first altar speaks to the blessings that Hashem provides for us.The second altar speaks to the forgiveness that Hashem grants us despite our many flaws. The third altar represents the essence of our connection with Hashem. Not a connection that is predicated on anything that God does for us but for no reason at all. In fact the word Chevron shares the same root as the word chibur, connection. The third altar that Avraham built celebrated the essential connection that every Jews shares with God.
This then is the inner meaning of Chevron. It is the place that expresses, not the functionality of our relationship with God (blessings and forgiveness), but the pure and unadulterated connection that each and every Jew has with Hashem. The source of this connection lies in the innermost recesses of our humanity, the soul. As the passuk in Iyov (31:2) says, חלק אלו-ה ממעל, a part of G‑d above. If God would be compared to the sun then our souls would be His rays. We are a part, so to speak, of Him.
With this in mind we are now ready to explore the relationship between Yerushalayim and Chevron. Rav Moshe Wolfson shlit"a explains, in our world there are two dimensions; the revealed and the concealed. The revealed can be destroyed but the concealed is not subject to destruction. The revealed dimension exists within our physical world and thus like all physical objects is subject to change. Matter can always be broken down into smaller matter. The concealed dimension is the essence of all things. The spark of Godliness that inheres in every aspect of our world. While the physical can be broken down and destroyed, the essence is not subject to change. It can never be destroyed; only covered up. As we will see, Yerushalayim (Beis HaMikdash) is the expression of the dimension of revelation while Chevron (Mearas Hamachpelah) is the expression of concealment.
Regarding the place of the Akeida the passuk tells us:
וַיִּקְרָ֧א אַבְרָהָ֛ם שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא יְהֹוָ֣ה | יִרְאֶ֑ה אֲשֶׁר֙ יֵֽאָמֵ֣ר הַיּ֔וֹם בְּהַ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה יֵֽרָאֶֽה:
"And Abraham named that place, The Lord will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, the Lord will be seen." (Bereishis 22:14)
ה' יראה: פשוטו כתרגומו, ה' יבחר ויראה לו את המקום הזה להשרות בו שכינתו ולהקריב כאן קרבנות:
The Lord will see: Its simple meaning is as the Targum renders: The Lord will choose and see for Himself this place, to cause His Divine Presence to rest therein and for offering sacrifices here.
The site of the Akeida would ultimately become the Beis HaMikdash located in Yerushalayim. Avraham Avinu named the mountain, יְהֹוָ֣ה יִרְאֶ֑ה, the Lord will see, because it was in that place that God revealed Himself to Avraham. The Beis Hamikdash would become the place where God's presence would be clearly manifest in our world. Standing atop Har Hamoriah is was, in a word, "revealed" Godliness.
If the Beis HaMikdash represents the world of revelation, Mearas Hamachpelah represents the world of concealment. Whereas the Beis HaMikdash sits atop the mountain for all to see, Mearas Hamachpelah is a cave with in a cave. Not simply one cave where anyone can access with ease but a cave within a cave, buried deep underground. The Beis HaMikdash, with its ten daily miracles (Avos 5:7) is a celebration of life. In contrast, Mearas Hamachpelah is where our Avos are buried.
However, as we said, the revealed dimension, because it takes up space in our world, it is subject to destruction. The concealed dimension takes up no space and therefore it is eternal. The Beis HaMikdash as the expression of revealed Godliness can be destroyed. Mearas Hamachpelah takes up no "space" in our world and is therefore not subject to destruction. Although we know where our Avos are buried there is no recognizable grave site. It is totally concealed.
Our world is made up of four elements; earth, air, fire and water (Medrash Rabba,
). Each of the four holy cities of Eretz Yisrael correspond to a different fundamental element. Yerushalayim is related to fire whereas Chevron is related to earth. Every Jew is comprised of both a Yerushalayim and a Chevron dimension. There are times when we are on fire, passionate about our Yiddishkeit and our relationship with Hashem. This is an expression of the Yerushalayim (fire) dimension of our being. However, because Yerushalayim is revealed it can also be destroyed. There are times when we feel totally cut off from Hashem. We are totally numb, feeling no desire at all to serve God. We daven but with little to no zeal. We are like the earth; still and unfeeling. It is in these Chevron (earth) times that we must know that our essence remains connected to God. Our pintele Yid cannot be diminished in any way. This is the relationship between Yerushalayim and Chevron. When the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed and our revealed feelings for God are totally absent, Mearas Hamachpelah teaches us that deep in our essence our relationship with God remains unchanged. A child remains a child no matter how much they feel disconnected from their parents. Chevron is the same letters as churban, destruction, and has the shoresh of chibur, connected. When Yerushalayim is in a state of churban, Chevron teaches us that we are still connected.
This explains why despite the tremendous kedusha of Yerushalayim, the Avos could not be buried there. Had our Avos been buried in Yerushalayim we would have thought that even the essence of a Jew is subject to destruction. By choosing to bury Sarah Imeinu in Chevron, Avraham was connecting Yerushalayim to Chevron. We find in the Zohar that Yerushalayim and the entire Land of Israel was folded (machpela means kaful - folded) under Mearas Hamachpelah. While it may appear that the Beis HaMikdash has been destroyed, it continues to exist in the dimension of the concealed. It remains hidden away, folded beneath, in the essence of Chevron awaiting rebirth.
This explains why the Zohar (Bereishis 39:1) calls the Avos, those that slumber in Chevron.
The Slumbers of Chevron”-rise and go to the earthy Garden of Eden where all the spirits of the righteous are found and they wrap themselves with a crown of light; they consult with them, and declare a decree. The All-Mighty is bound by that decree and does their will to show mercy on the world. And when the world is in need of mercy and the living go and inform the souls of the righteous and weep over their graves-then the righteous people who are on the proper level to bond their soul with those of the righteous departed. Then the souls of the departed righteous awaken and gather to go to the “Slumberers of Chevron”[the Forefathers] and inform them of the world’s plight and all go up to the gate of the garden of Eden and inform the Ruach surrounding the Garden of Eden have supreme angels among them and all of these inform the Neshama (a supreme soul) and it informs the All-Mighty and all together beg mercy for the living and for their sake, the All-Mighty bestows His mercy on the world.
In Mearas Hamachpelah the Avos are not considered dead, merely slumbering. Yerushalayim may appear to be dead but actually in Chevron it lies sleeping, waiting for its ultimate resurrection.
With this in mind it makes sense that the owner of Mearas Hamachpelah would be Ephron whose name has the shoresh of afar, earth. Earth, like all the foundation elements, has a side of Tumah and a side of kedusha. In its state of holiness, earth represents humility. In its state of impurity, it represents laziness and lethargy. Ephron only has a connection to the tumah of earth. Hence Rebbe Nosson (Likuttei Halachos Hilchos Teffilin Siman mem) explains that Ephron is related to the Nachash Hakadmoni as the passuk in Yeshaya (65:25) says, וְנָחָ֖שׁ עָפָ֣ר לַחְמ֑וֹ, and a serpent-dust shall be his food and as the passuk in Bereishis (3:14) says, וְעָפָ֥ר תֹּאכַ֖ל כָּל־יְמֵ֥י חַיֶּֽיךָ, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. The "life" of the Nachash is eating dirt. Laziness and lethargic with no purpose. To the Nachash, everything will be destroyed in the end anyway.
Avraham Avinu as the true heir of all of Eretz Yisrael is related to both Yerushalayim and Chevron.
וַיַּ֥עַן אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הִנֵּה־נָ֤א הוֹאַ֨לְתִּי֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־אֲדֹנָ֔י וְאָֽנֹכִ֖י עָפָ֥ר וָאֵֽפֶר
"And Abraham answered and said, "Behold now I have commenced to speak to the Lord, although I am dust and ashes." (Bereishis 18:27)
Avraham refers to himself as dust and ashes. The ashes are a reference to Yerushalayim and the dust is a reference to Chevron. Notice that the dust comes before the ashes. The destruction of Yerushalayim comes in the context of the eternal nature of Chevron. Even in our state of ashes, when the fire has been extinguished, we are still connected in our essence. In other words, Avraham represents the kedusha of earth. For some destruction creates a feeling of laziness and lethargy. Why bother if it will be destroyed in the end anyway? For Avraham, his humility connects him to the essence of all things. Even when something appears to be destroyed, its essence remains intact. Thus there is no reason for laziness and lethargy. Rebuilding is part of the process. Dust and ashes. Dust represents the building and ashes represents the destruction. For Avraham Avinu destruction is not the end but the beginning of the next cycle where we once again rebuild.
In contrast to Ephron who represents the Nachash Hakadmoni, Avraham and Sarah are connected to the essence, to the source of all life. Hence we find that the Torah uses a double lnaguage of life when it comes to Sarah Imeinui as the passuk says:
וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה
"And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah." (Bereishis 23:1)
Similarly by Avraham we find that the Torah says:
וְאַבְרָהָ֣ם זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים וַֽיהֹוָ֛ה בֵּרַ֥ךְ אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֖ם בַּכֹּֽל
"And Abraham was old, advanced in days, and the Lord had blessed Abraham with everything." (Bereishis 24:1)
The words בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים literally mean that Avraham came with his days. Though Avraham had reached old age, he came with his days, he truly was connected to life.
Calev Davens in Chevron
This thesis explains an interesting aspect of the story of the Meraglim.
וַיַּֽעֲל֣וּ בַנֶּ֘גֶב֘ וַיָּבֹ֣א עַד־חֶבְרוֹן֒ וְשָׁ֤ם אֲחִימָן֙ שֵׁשַׁ֣י וְתַלְמַ֔י יְלִידֵ֖י הָֽעֲנָ֑ק וְחֶבְר֗וֹן שֶׁ֤בַע שָׁנִים֙ נִבְנְתָ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י צֹ֥עַן מִצְרָֽיִם:
"They went up in, the south, and he came to Hebron, and there were Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of the giant. Now Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan of Egypt." (Bamidbar 13:22)
There is a textual difficulty with this passuk. Initially it says that "they" (the Meraglim) went up in the south but then it says "he" went to Chevron. Who is "he"? What happened to the rest of the Meraglim?
ויבא עד חברון: כלב לבדו הלך שם ונשתטח על קברי אבות, שלא יהא ניסת לחבריו להיות בעצתם, וכן הוא אומר (דברים א, לו) ולו אתן את הארץ אשר דרך בה, וכתיב (שופטים א, כ) ויתנו לכלב את חברון:
and he came to Hebron: Caleb went there alone [hence the singular “he came”] to prostrate himself on the graves of the patriarchs [in prayer] that he not be enticed by his colleagues to be part of their counsel. Thus, it says, “I will give him [Caleb] the land on which he has walked” (
, and it is written, “They gave Hebron to Caleb” (Jud. 1:20). - [Sotah 34b]
Why did Calev not go to Yerushalayim to daven? After all, the Makom HaMikdash was the site where Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov had their most powerful teffilos?
וַתִּשָּׂא֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַיִּתְּנ֖וּ אֶת־קוֹלָ֑ם וַיִּבְכּ֥וּ הָעָ֖ם בַּלַּ֥יְלָה הַהֽוּא:
"The entire community raised their voices and shouted, and the people wept on that night." (Bamidbar 14:1)
Rashi (Tehillim 106:27) explains that when Klal Yisrael heard the report of the Meraglim it was Tisha B'Av and this is when Hashem decreed that the Beis Hamikdash would be destroyed.
Hashem said, “They wept for nothing, and I shall establish for them weeping for generations.”
With this in mind we can understand why Calev went to daven in Chevron and not in Yerushalayim. As a result of the report of the Meraglim the Beis Hamikdash would be destroyed. Davening in Chevron was an expression of the idea that although Yerushalayim would be destroyed, it remains lying in wait in Chevron. Further, the Meraglim only saw the external aspects of Eretz Yisrael. They saw the giants of Eretz Yisrael and felt that it could not be conquered. Calev went to Mearas Hamachpelah and saw deep into the essence of Eretz Yisrael. This protected him from falling into the plan of the Meraglim. Where they saw destruction he saw rebirth and renewal.
The Deep Counsel of Chevron
This thesis also explains a puzzling aspect of the story of Yosef HaTzaddik and his sale as a slave to Mitzrayim.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ לֶךְ־נָ֨א רְאֵ֜ה אֶת־שְׁל֤וֹם אַחֶ֨יךָ֙ וְאֶת־שְׁל֣וֹם הַצֹּ֔אן וַֽהֲשִׁבֵ֖נִי דָּבָ֑ר וַיִּשְׁלָחֵ֨הוּ֙ מֵעֵ֣מֶק חֶבְר֔וֹן וַיָּבֹ֖א שְׁכֶֽמָה
"So he said to him, "Go now and see to your brothers' welfare and the welfare of the flocks, and bring me back word." So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem." (Bereishis 37:14)
מעמק חברון: והלא חברון בהר, שנאמר (במדבר יג כב) ויעלו בנגב ויבא עד חברון, אלא מעצה עמוקה של [אותו] צדיק הקבור בחברון, לקיים מה שנאמר לאברהם בין הבתרים (לעיל טו יג) כי גר יהיה זרעך:
from…Hebron: But is not Hebron on a mountain? It is stated: “And they ascended in the south, and he came as far as Hebron” (
. But [it is to be understood that he sent him] from the deep counsel of the righteous man who is buried in Hebron (i.e., Abraham), to fulfill what was said to Abraham between the parts (
. [From Gen. Rabbah 84:13]
Rashi explains that מֵעֵ֣מֶק חֶבְר֔וֹן, the valley of Chevron, can also be understood as a deep counsel (עֵ֣מֶק can also mean deep). Why does our Golus begin from Chevron? Avraham was told in the Bris Bein Habesarim that his children would one day be enslaved in Mitzrayim. The deep counsel of Avraham Avinu is that Golus begins from Chevron. In this way Klal Yisrael will be able to withstand theagonizing exile that is to follow. While on the outside it appears that all hope is lost and that destruction is assured, Chevron reminds us that even in our state of churban we remain eternally connected.
Chevron - Every Jew is Connected
We can now understand the inner significance of Avraham Avinu paying four hundred silver shekels for Mearas Hamachpelah.
The Paaneach Raza calculates that in those days the value of land was 50 silver shekels for a beit kor, or 75,000 square amot (cubits) (based on Vayikra 27:16). Thus, the area purchased by Avraham was eight beit kor, or 600,000 square cubits. A square cubit is the approximate area occupied by an upright human being.
The generation of Jews which left Egypt and received the Torah at Har Sinai numbered 600,000. Our sages tell us that Klal Yisrael consists of 600,000 souls, and that the soul of every Jew who ever lived is an offshoot of one of these 600,000 “general” souls. Thus the Torah contains 600,000 letters (counting the spaces between letters), for each Jew possesses something of the Torah.
In purchasing Chevron (chibur) for four hundred shekalim Avraham Avinu was expressing the essential connection that every Jew has with Hashem and His Torah.
Mearas Hamachpelah and Teffilin
With this in mind we can understand the connection that Rebbe Nosson makes (Likuttei Halachos Hilchos Teffilin Siman 38,39,40) between Teffilin and Mearas Hamachpelah). Teffilin consist of four parshios. In the Tefillin shel Rosh the parshios are written on four separate pieces of parchment and encased in four individual compartments. In the Tefillin shel Yad, the parshios are all written on one piece of parchment and placed in one case. These four parshiyos correspond to the four couples that are buried in Mearas Hamachpelah. As we said above, Mearas Hamachpelah sits at the entrance to Gan Eden and represents connection the source of all life. The four parshios of Teffilin are related to the fourth level of the soul which is called Chaya, life. Chaya is described as the consciousness that life is more than our souls in our bodies. That is just a temporary state we call "alive." The Tzaddikim who are buried in Mearas Hamachpelah had a double life. Meaning, they were not just alive but they were tapped into life itself. Every day, when we wrap ourselves with Teffilin, we are tying ourselves to the four couples and the consciousness of life itself (beyond the physical state of alive).
This is what the Gemara in Menachos (44b) means when it says:
ואמר ר"ל כל המניח תפילין מאריך ימים שנאמר (
) ה' עליהם יחיו ולכל בהן חיי רוחי ותחלימני והחייני
And Reish Lakish says: Anyone who dons phylacteries lives a long life, as it is stated: “The Lord is upon them, they will live, and altogether therein is the life of my spirit; and have me recover, and make me to live” (
). This is interpreted as referring to those who don phylacteries, which contain the name of God, on their heads; as a result, they will live, be healed and merit long life.
Keeping in mind the idea that Teffilin represent connection, specifically the connection to life that comes from the fourth dimension of the soul and from Mearas Hamchpelah we can understand a fascinating Gemara in Brachos (7a). In the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf, Moshe Rabbeinu has a revelation. וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִי֙ אֶת־כַּפִּ֔י וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵֽרָאֽוּ: "And you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen" (Shemot 33:23) The Gemara explains that God wears Teffilin and He showed Moshe the knot of His Teffilin shel Rosh.
What is the significance of the fact that Moshe saw the knot of God's Teffilin shel Rosh?
The Ben Yehoyada explains that Moshe wanted to see the letter Vav and God showed Moshe the letter Daled which is seen in the knot of the Teffilin shel Rosh. Both the Vav and the Daled are found in the letter Yud (Yud is spelled Yud Vav Daled). The word אֲחֹרָ֑י therefore is interpreted as two words, achar yud, the end of the yud, which is the letter Daled. Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to see the וּפָנַ֖י, the inside (פנימיות) of the letter Yud which is the Vav but that he was not able to see.
What is the significance of Moshe's desire to see the letter Vav? Why instead was he only able to see the letter Daled?
Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to understand the inner connection to all things. Vav is the letter that embodies connection. The letter vav means "and" which connects two parts of a sentence together. Moshe Rabbeinu wants to understand not just the external connection but the internal connection, the essence of God's plan, in this world. This explains why he wants to see the Vav that is in the middle of the letters Yud (the Yud represents God's manifestation in this world). But that level of understanding is not available to us in this world. Not even to Moshe Rabbeinu. Instead, God shows him the letter daled in the knot of his Teffilin. He can see the connection (kesher means knot) that is related to the daled (four), the dimension of Teffilin that is related to Mearas Hamchpelah. While Vav reflects the inner, incomprehensible connection, Daled represents the external connection that a human being can comprehend. In Chevron the Vav becomes manifest in a way that humans can experience.
In Kabbalah we find that the burial of Sarah Imeinu in Kiryat Arba is an expression of the souls journey though life. Sarah Imeinu is an allusion to the soul, Kiryat Arba alludes the four elements comprising the physical body and Canaan(“commerce”) refers to the soul’s “investment” into physical life for the sake of gleaning spiritual “profit” from the experience. Chevron is the fusion of matter and spirit that is life. This fits in perfectly with our assertion that Chevron is the place the expresses the essence of the letter Vav.
With this in mind we can now understand the Megaleh Amukos (quoted above) which told us that Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to enter into Eretz Yisrael in order to visit Mearas Hamachpelah. Moshe had seen the daled in the knot of Hashems Teffilin symbolizing Mearas Hamachpelah. Moshe was not satisfied just seeing the Daled, he wanted to experience the Daled in action while davening at Mearas Hamachpelah.
We are now ready to understand why Ephron's name is spelled without a Vav once he sells Mearas Hamachpelah to Avraham Avinu. Ephron, as the owner of Mearas Hamachpelah, was the keeper of the Vav. Mearas Hamachpelah is the bridge between Gan Eden and our
other words, it embodies the letter Vav. Once Avraham took ownership of Mearas Hamachpelah Ephron lost his connection the Vav.
Now that Avraham has owns the letter Vav he is connected to the 310 world's that is promised to every tzaddik after they pass away (Mishna Uktzin 3:12). This explains why Avraham Avinu insists on paying kesef malei. When you spell out the word kesef in its malei form it is the Gematria of 310.
We can now understand why Dovid HaMelech insisted on paying Kesef Malei for Har HaBayis.
The passuk tells us:
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֚לֶךְ דָּוִיד֙ לְאָרְנָ֔ן לֹ֕א כִּֽי־קָנֹ֥ה אֶקְנֶ֖ה בְּכֶ֣סֶף מָלֵ֑א כִּ֠י לֹֽא־אֶשָּׂ֚א אֲשֶׁר־לְךָ֙ לַיהֹוָ֔ה וְהַֽעֲל֥וֹת עוֹלָ֖ה חִנָּֽם "And King David said to Ornan, "No, for I will buy [it] for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, and offer up burnt offerings for nothing." (Divrei Hayamim 21:24) Oranan was king of the Jebusites and ruler of Jerusalem. When Dovid conquered Jerusalem, Ornan converted to Judaism. Dovid was shown by an angel that Ornan's silo was the exalted spot upon which the Beeis HaMikdash should be built. When Ornan heard this, he willingly offered his silo to Dovid. However, despite having conquered the land and having the express consent of the owner, Dovid insisted on paying Ornan for the full value of the silo. As we said above, Yerushalayim is related to the foundational element of fire and Chevron is the element of earth. Just as Ephron is related to earth because they share the same shoresh, Ornan is also related to Yerushalayim in that the Gematria of Ornan is eish, fire. In paying Kesef Malei to Ornan Dovid was connecting Yerushalayim to Chevron. The value in doing so is so that when the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed there is a message of hope that is conveyed to Klal Yisrael. The Beis HaMikdash has not truly been destroyed, it merely lies slumbering in Chevron. Now the value of the double structure of Mearas Hamachpelah becomes obvious. The nature of Mearas Hamachpelah is that it conceals (and protects) the essence. If Mearas Hamachpelah was only one cave it would not be a tue concealment. To truly conceal it needs to be buried in the depths of the earth. This is why Rashi prioritizes the explanation that Kiryat Arba was named after the four wicked giants that dwelled there and only afterwards suggests that it was named after the four couples. On an external level Kiyat Araba was named for the four giants. In this fashion the kedusha of Kiryat Arba was concealed. On an essential level, Kiryat Arba was named after the four holy couples that are buried there. Rashi places this as the second explanation because the kedusha of the Avos is hidden beneath the kelippah of the giants Death and Marriage
What is the significance of the fact that the Torah extrapolates the method of marriage from the purchase of Mearas Hamachpelah? Why is it important that our Avos and Imahos were buried next to one another.
The goal of marriage is intimacy; the creation of oneness. On a physical level two objects can only ever be close to one another. In the revealed world intimacy is impossible. True oneness can only be achieved on the level of the soul, in the dimension of the concealed. A soulful relationship is an intimate relationship. The body does not represent an impediment to oneness.
In Mearas Hamachpelah our Avos and Imaho slumber next to one another. They are as connected in death as they are in life. Because the relationship was not body oriented, death has no impact. Just as the relationship was concealed and protected in this world so too it remains intact in this world.
Knowing this allows us to appreciate the beauty of the connection between Avraham purchasing Sdei Ephron and Kinyan Kiddushin. When we get married we do so with the worldview of Avraham Avinu. Just as Avraham built a relationship with Sarah that achieved true intimacy, withstanding even her death, so too do we strive to build a soulful relationship. In Mearas Hamachpelah, Avraham was eternally connected to Sarah. Hidden away in a cave within a cave their essence remained untainted by death.
In our relationships we have both the dimensions of Yerushalayim and Chevron. There are Yerushalayim times when we are passionate and excited about our spouses. Like all things in the revealed world, these times are subject to destruction. In those times we must learn to access the Chevron dimension of our relationships. When the revealed relationship no longer presents itself, we dig deep and discover the concealed and essential aspects of our relationship. Perhaps we are frustrated with our spouse. Perhaps hurtful things have been said and done. The Yerushalayim has been destroyed but the essence of the relationship remains intact. Knowing that the relationship’s essence is still extant allows us to rebuild. The relationship has not been irrevocably damaged, it lies in slumber awaiting reawakening. In these times we must hold on to hope. The fire may not be burning but the earth remains. And as they say in AA, rock bottom is a beautiful place to build a foundation.